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Holy Crap! I'm The Mommy!

I spent one day this past weekend teaching a workshop, and thought I’d show up early and do a little shopping at the Container Store beforehand (yes, I know I mention it in every other blog -), reasoning that since I was bringing Maddie with me, I’d have the car to tote home large organizational objects.  We’re working on baby proofing, and I’m trying to clean our junk up into neat, un-baby-reachable tubs and totes.  But I digress –
I bought a rather large, assemble-it-yourself piece of equipment: the kind that comes in four sheets of particle board and is really heavy.  A store employee kindly carried it to the car for me in the pouring rain, and in his haste to return inside, threw it haphazardly into the trunk.  After he slammed the trunk shut, I realized all my workshop teaching notes and Maddie’s toys were still in the trunk.  Upon trying to retrieve them, I discovered the trunk latch had caught on the box and was jammed shut.  Try as I might, I could not get the trunk open.  I looked at my daughter, sitting trustingly under her plastic stroller rain cover, took a deep breath, and tried again.  No luck.  Jumping up and down on it didn’t work either.  By now, it’s a half hour past her feeding time, she’s been out in the wet rain for at least that long with her stroller parked directly over a smelly subway grate, and I’m out of ideas.  And one thought crystallized in my head –
I want my mommy.

I think we all hit that point sometimes: where we throw our hands up in the air, looking around for our bankie and our mommy to cuddle up with and make everything ok.  Some wave of a magic wand supposedly turned me from the cuddlee to the cuddler, and I’m not too sure I’m real thrilled about that.  Doesn’t my blood link give me the right to unlimited Mommy Time Outs for the rest of my life?  How can Madeleine possibly expect me to know what to do in this situation?  But I can see by her face that it doesn’t even occur to her that I won’t. 
When I was maybe five years old, my mother poured herself a bowl of cereal one morning and topped it off with Kool-Aid instead of juice.  My brother and I found the story hysterical our whole childhood; now I see the exhaustion that must have been present to cause her to make such a mistake.  Even more telling to me, though, is what happened next: she saw what she had done, thought for a moment, and ate the bowl anyway.  The effort to fix another bowl was too great for her, and she plodded forward as best she could.  I can’t imagine the fatigue that would cause her to hit such a level, but can conceive even less how she was able to function at that level, getting us ready for school and out the door, except that she had to.  She was the Mommy.
Not too long after Maddie was born, a friend asked me if I felt like a Mommy.  I replied honestly, “No.  I feel like a girl playing at Mommy, doing Mommy things because I read somewhere that it’s what mommies do.”  He asked me recently if that had changed, and I said yes, but in an odd way.  I told him that I get into situations where I realize that this is the point at which the Buck Stops, and you just dig in your heels and do what needs to be done.  No one else is going to fix It; that’s your job.  And that’s what makes me feel like a mommy.  The little face turns trustingly towards you, and you just – do it.
My trunk lock story has a fairy-tale ending; my mommy stepped in.  She had come with me to watch Maddie while I taught and saw I was getting to the end of my rope.  She directed me to head inside and feed Madeleine while she started tracking down locksmiths.  Grateful to turn the reins over to her, I did so, feeling relief wash over me.
My mommy was there, and she would make it all better.
I guess there’s no Statute of Limitations for getting Mommy Time Outs after all.


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